By Laura SperberLegend Numismatics …….

 

If you think this Hot Topics sounds like a broken record… yes, it does. I can never say these things enough!

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR A COIN TO BE FRESH?

freshness_thumbThis is where many collectors make big mistakes. A coin purchased in 2013 is NOT fresh. Most likely people remember it. A coin from 2005 is now fresh.

There is no specific rule as to what is “fresh”.

We like to think anything 10+ years or longer off the market completely is fresh. Recently I had a collector say to me, I have been buying since 2012, why can’t I make money? THREE reasons here: #1 – the coins are not fresh; #2 – the coins are not of true quality; and #3 – we are NOT in a bull market. It’s a mystery to me why so many people think building a Registry set and holding the coins for two years guarantees them profits. NOT!

To make real money in rare coins, you need to be a LONG-TERM buyer. Yes, there are exceptions. BUT, bull markets are cyclical. Not every time will the crack-out guys aggressively buy a coin they saw within a year or two. Those guys are so crazy, if they want something, they just pay insanity and submit the coin immediately.

A great example of how short term does not work: the late Gene Gardner. He bought fabulous coins. he had a good advisor. But in sales like Newman where we made him pay US$188,000.00 for the 1861 25C proof in 2013, we were able to buy it at his sale in 2015 for $129,250.00. Now, our customer plans to hold that coin for at least a decade or more. While being “gold’s gift” to all No Motto Pr 25C in the end, the coin was not fresh. And in the two years since he bought it, the other buyers found other places to spend their money.

QUALITY

I am a broken record on this. BUY THE BEST QUALITY YOU CAN AFFORD. You don’t always have to buy MS68s.

Back in 1992, we bought the most outrageously-toned Morgan (the $1 1882S NGC MS66 CAC – now in our September 29 Regency Sale) for a whopping $700.00. Even the dealer laughed hard when we told him we flipped it to a great customer for $750.00. Today, that coin already has a very real bid (and more are expected) for $17,625.00 (all in)!

I can tell you many more stories of so many other coins, from PR Barber Dimes to RARE gold. One of the most famous stories: the Duckor $10 1920S PCGS MS67+ CAC Simpson. We paid $1,760,000.00. Dr. Duckor paid $75,000.00 back in the early 1970s.

Buying a marginal PR66 Barber Half with lackluster color and slightly hazy mirrors today is NOT a coin you can sell in two years for a decent profit, or really any profit–unless you buy it seriously BELOW market or something happens to create a huge boom. Yet so many collectors try to do just that, only to lose money and get frustrated. No one ever said coins maintain 100% of their purchase price.

They are like a car (even a top of the line Bentley): you take it home, the value drops 20%.

I’ve helped collectors buy coins today and have them immediately in a profit position–but that doesn’t happen often. It NEVER happens with retreads, no matter how cheaply they can be bought. Never ever be afraid to pay a strong premium for a gorgeous fresh coin. In fact, to build any kind of great, high-end collection you pretty much have to overpay.

WORKING WITH THE RIGHT DEALER

Be a do-it-yourselfer and see what happens. Unless you hold LONG TERM and buy the VERY BEST, you won’t make great returns. I can’t understand why collectors do not want to pay dealers 5% for auction representation yet they will go out and overpay for a fully dreck-calibre coin at a sale.

To make money in coins, having the “right” dealer by your side DOES make a difference. They are your eyes and ears 24/7 – as well as your collecting partner. Go buy from auctions; 90% of the time the underbidder goers MIA right after the sale. A good dealer who sells good coins will stand by them and you’re not left empty-handed.

One huge example of how a dealer makes a difference: Pogue. Yes, Pogue. The late David Akers-era saw the very best coins acquired. I know the Pogues had their BEST returns from the coins purchased via Akers and of course they held. We all know how poorly they did with EVERY coin purchased recently–especially the Missouri Cabinet Half Cents (which were of great quality).

Not all post-Akers coins were nice, many cost too much, and the prices realized reflected that. Poor judgement can happen on all levels. And not all dealers who think they’re all that really are. You have to do your homework when picking a dealer… but it makes a HUGE difference.

I’ve spent my entire career building great collections and placing the best coins. Because of this, someone like a Phil Flannagan (back to the 1882S MS66) will now enjoy nearly a 20% per annum return! Although I must confirm we did turn down $2,000.00 for the coin 30 days after we sold it to Phil. It has also allowed me to start Legend Auctions and go from ZERO to $12,000,000.00 in only three years. No question it has become a showcase for some of the finest coins ever.

Prices today for marginal and dreck coins are almost at melt. We dealers have a saying about coins like those: “Cheap is not cheap enough”.

Earlier this year, I saw a collector who spent well over $1 million buying better PCGS gold cheap out of auctions the last two-three years. He wanted bargains. 90% of what he owns is grossly underwater and is only getting cheaper because about two-thirds of the coins have issues.

Don’t think you can beat the system!

Sure, these days there are coins that “fall through the cracks”. BUT not many really do. Most people simply do NOT buy right.

This HOT TOPIC is not about “deal with me”. This HOT TOPIC is about pointing out what collectors need to consider when buying and especially selling. The days of flipping coins (2006-2009) are over. We’re now in a much more selective buyers market.

Buying anything cheap will NOT make you money-especially within the next two-three years.

RIGHT NOW

I see more opportunities being squandered then ever today. Coin prices overall are too cheap. Yet collectors insist on buying cheap, thinking they can resell in a short period of time. They do not look at coin quality either; they simply blame everyone else when they fail. If they buy right, I see the potential for a ton of money to be made within the next five to 10 years. Always remember, QUALITY, RARITY, GET A GOOD DEALER, AND HOLD LONG TERM. That simple. Coins are NOT stocks. Unless you are in coins full time, you do NOT know everything and your grading skills are NOT as good as you think (I stand by that comment).

Sadly, these days we can not just rely on what grade the holder says.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at: lspeber1[ at ]hotmail[ dot ]com

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